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March 21, 2013 | North America: Jamaica

Hypertension – the “Silent Killer”

By Karl Hejlik

Shawn Myers, an athlete from Jamaica, discovered he had dangerously high blood pressure at a Healthy Athletes screening.

More than 20% of Special Olympics athletes have elevated blood pressure, but it was still a shock when Shawn Myers, a floor hockey player from Jamaica, was screened at the Health Promotion area at World Winter Games in Korea earlier this year. His blood pressure was an alarming 180/120, categorized as Stage 3 Hypertension. With such high pressure and since he played such a physically demanding sport, Shawn was in immediate risk of stroke, heart attack, and permanent damage to his organs. Special Olympics helped him in Korea, but with such a chronic condition, Shawn would be at continual risk once he returned home unless doctors there intervened. Fortunately, he was able to receive medication and get his condition under control, according to Lorna Bell, Executive Director, Special Olympics Jamaica. Recognizing hypertension as a major public health concern around the world, the World Health Organization has designated it as the theme of World Health Day 2013, commemorated 7 April.

About Karl Hejlik: Senior Manager, Health and Research Communications

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